What the Bible Says About Sex...
Did you know that the Bible is just full of sex--of all kinds? Yes, it is true. Everything from erotica, to illicit entanglements all the way down to rape and torture. There is a proper framework in which we can view this vast subject and the purpose of this article is to help line out the appropriate categories of that framework.
Before we begin, we once again need to establish a few ground rules.
- We let the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments speak for themselves. I kinda stand on the idea that Scripture is inerrant & infallible.
- All of Scripture is inspired--so we don't throw out parts because they are older or because we don't like them.
- Scripture is uniform in that all of it is God's Word and Counsel to us. He doesn't lie, or get it mixed up.
- When looking at supposed variances, one should engage in both Biblical and Systematic Theology to get the overall broad view as well as see the developmental aspect through history.
If we are agreed--let's continue...
The Gift Of Sex
Sex is a wondrous thing given to mankind by our Creator God who realised that human fulfilment was not happening Garden of Eden with Adam, and so He created a partner for him named Eve. Not long after that they had some kids (Genesis 4:1-2). The Bible is silent on how the two of them knew what to do to create babies, but suffice it to say they figured it out and got on with it. Watching the animal kingdom multiply might have given them some good ideas.
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman,' for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
One of the purposes for sex was listed in the earlier chapter in what is commonly called the "Cultural Mandate" which included among other things, filling the earth with one's progeny...
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
But besides the mandate to procreate, there was also the whole relationship in the sexual experience that was intended. We get a glimpse of it right after the Fall in the garden...
To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
That the human sexual experience included sensuality, desire, passion and and just being plain horny/randy is quite evident from the Old Testament book called Solomon's Song (also called The Song of Songs). Here is a book that talks about a boy and a girl liking each other to the point of distraction. They get engaged to be married and become "hot" for each other. Then the marriage occurs and well, hmm, real fireworks stuff here. Wow! Here's a sample...
Song of Songs 1:13-2:7
My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts. 14 My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi. 15 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. 16 How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant. 17 The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs. 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. 2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. 3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. 4 He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. 5 Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. 6 His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. 7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
Song of Songs 4:1-7
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead. 2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. 3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate. 4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. 5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. 6 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense. 7 All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 7:1-13
How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince's daughter! Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman's hands. 2 Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. 3 Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 4 Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus. 5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel. Your hair is like royal tapestry; the king is held captive by its tresses. 6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights!7 Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. 8 I said, "I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit." May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, 9 and your mouth like the best wine. May the wine go straight to my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth. 10 I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me. 11 Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. 12 Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom-- there I will give you my love. 13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.
Song of Songs 8:10
I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment.
It is clear from this and other passages that there is a deep and abiding relationship between a man and a woman here. It is how God intended the wondrous gift of sex. It was never intended any other way.
The Limitations on Sexual Practice
Indeed, God had special limitations and constrictions on what was allowed and what was not allowed regarding sexual practice...
The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `I am the LORD your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.
6 "`No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.
7 "`Do not dishonour your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.
8 "`Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonour your father.
9 "`Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father's daughter or your mother's daughter , whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.
10 "`Do not have sexual relations with your son's daughter or your daughter's daughter ; that would dishonour you.
11 "`Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father's wife, born to your father; she is your sister.
12 "`Do not have sexual relations with your father's sister; she is your father's close relative.
13 "`Do not have sexual relations with your mother's sister, because she is your mother's close relative.
14 "`Do not dishonour your father's brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.
15 "`Do not have sexual relations with your daughter -in-law. She is your son's wife; do not have relations with her.
16 "`Do not have sexual relations with your brother's wife; that would dishonour your brother.
17 "`Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter ; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.
18 "`Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.
19 "`Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.
20 "`Do not have sexual relations with your neighbours wife and defile yourself with her.
21 "`Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
22 "`Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
23 "`Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
24 "`Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. 29 "`Everyone who does any of these detestable things--such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practised before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.'"
All this is summed up in one of the Ten Commandments:
"You shall not commit adultery.
One other stricture that was put on sexual relations was that it would be done only with a spouse chosen from within the household of faith. In the Old Testament, that meant that you had to marry within the Israelite nation...within your race & religion. This was commanded to avoid pagan influence in the culture detracting from the pure worship of the Lord. There were penalties for marrying foreigners. This continues even into the New Testament...
2 Corinthians 6:14-17
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
But sex in a proper marriage is meant to be a wondrous thing. In fact, what goes on behind closed doors is something that is only governed by the love and respect between two consenting marital partners...
Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure,...
Consequences of Wrongful Sexual Activity
Most people don't realise it, but Noah's flood was a result of sexual promiscuity. Here is the reason behind it...
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. 5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD.
Sodom & Gomorrah were also the recipients of God's wrath at the blatant sexual and homosexual misconduct...
13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
Genesis 19:4-13, 23-28
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom --both young and old--surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
9 "Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
12 The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here--sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
And the Lord took action against adultery and rape as well. In Judges 19-20 is the story of how all of Israel went up against the tribe of Benjamin because they did not give up the rapists of a concubine. They were destroyed. Gruesome stuff.
Later, Amon rapes his half-sister Tamar. In the end, her brother Absolam plans and effects revenge.
Then, there is King David's indiscretion with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. In spite of David's confession of sin & remorse, the conceived child dies and David's sword was always at his side all his days--defending against all comers including his own son Absalom.
But illicit sex can have its own intrinsic damage--as is seen from this passage
My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. 21 Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, 24 keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. 25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, 26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread , and the adulteress preys upon your very life.
27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? 28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? 29 So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. 30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. 31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. 32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. 33 Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away; 34 for jealousy arouses a husband's fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. 35 He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse the bribe, however great it is.
Because sinful people suppress the truth of God in their lives, God gives them over to their sin. It first effects their thinking, and then their feelings and finally their actions. It starts a never ending spiral down into death and destruction.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
It is quite clear from Scripture that those who practice sexual sin and who remain unrepentant, will not enter the Kingdom of God and will suffer His wrath and judgement...
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoralnor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
Jesus ups the ante and forces us to acknowledge the whole mental process of humans when he declares that our thoughts are just as important as our actions are...
"You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.' 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
How To Safely Control The Urge To Merge
The best way to control your self according to Paul is to make use of the creational safety valve of marriage...
1 Corinthians 7:8-9
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry , for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
But even in a happy marriage one must learn to avoid temptation. Here is some good advice...
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn tocontrol his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.
If you ever get into trouble and are about to succumb (because you are weak), do what one of my favourite Old Testament guys did--RUN!
Genesis 39: 6b-12
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!"
8 But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife . How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?"
10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
I have not dealt with every instance and reference to sex in the Bible...there is just too much to note here on these pages. But I think you have now a grasp of this very broad topic--the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember that it is a gift from God and should be enjoyed by all in its right context at the right times.
What Constitutes Illicit Sex
There are of course the obvious things like sexual intercourse/fornication outside of marriage. And you can add any and all male and female homosexual activity. Also included is anything that smacks of sexual predation (i.e.. rape, torture and pedophilia).
But what about two people who are falling in love--but are not yet married?
The key here is focusing on the intent of the relationship between each other and God, who has said to remain pure. If mutual love and trust are present, then doing anything intimate that may jepordise such a relationship is not a good idea...even if both of you are horny/randy. If fondling, caressing, kissing and oral sex are present, causing you to further lust and burn with passion to the point where you proceed with the act of sexual intercourse and/or other sexual fulfillment...then you must refrain from such activity for the love of the person involved and the love of God. It is not worth the emotional, physical, and relational damage that can occur. If you can't control it....get married!
What about a relationship between two people who are married to other spouses, but who find themselves falling for someone else?
If there becomes a significant other in your life other than the one you married to, then you are not only playing with the fire and passions of human sexuality, but more importantly, you have already broken covenantal faith with your married partner. Sex is not just physical, but emotional and relational as well. And as such, building an intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse (even if no physical sex is involved) constitutes a breach of the marriage covenant. Such intimacy is reserved in marriage exclusively for your partner.
In short, if you are involved in any of the following, then you are in the wrong before God.
- Having sexual intercourse with anyone outside of marriage, anytime regardless of your feelings for them.
- Oral sex with anyone outside of marriage, anytime regardless of your feelings for them.
- This includes group sex of any kind inside or outside of marriage.
- Any physical contact or stimulation engaged in that pushes the envelope and causes you to want to "do it" or receive satisfaction in another way outside of marriage (e.g.. groping, petting, watching or reading pornography).
- Any and all homosexual activity--male or female inside or outside of marriage.
- Any form of rape, incest, or pedophilia inside or outside of marriage.
- Prostitution or cultic ritual inside or outside of marriage.
- Displacing the intimacy of the marital covenant with a relationship with another that has emotional, relational characteristics, with or without the physical sexual part.
- Thinking about any of the above to the point of obsession or distraction.
OK, I've Committed Sexual Sin...Now What?
Recognising that fact and fearing God in this matter is the first step. You need to be afraid here, because God is not kidding around. The consequences of sexual sin in this life and the live to come are horrendous.
The next step is to recognise the lordship of Jesus Christ who is your Creator and acknowledge Him as the only one who can save anyone who has committed any kind of sin. Admit your guilt and ask God to forgive you. Jesus can and will forgive you your sins (any and all of them), if you are willing to accept Him as your Saviour and ask Him to take over your life in such a way as you are now willing to live the kind of life that God has intended for you. The caveat to this is...
Thirdly, you must stop. Stop sinning sexually, no matter what the cost in terms of relationships, finances, or other determinations. You must attempt from this point on...to be pure before God.
If it is too late and sexual activity has already occured for all the wrong reasons, you can start over. Even if you were wrong and have blown it, you can receive forgiveness from God and start over. The results of your past may remain with you, but you can be renewed by God. God is in the business of rebuilding shattered lives of penitent people.
Resources you might use:
Sex For Christians by Lewis B. Smedes 1976 Eerdmann's Publishing
Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat M.D. & Gaye Wheat 1977 Revell Publishing